Edmonton

Lack of Red Cross funding frustrates some Fort McMurray families

The Red Cross says there has been a hold up because some families made multiple registrations.

'We’re a family of 4, you think they would know to prioritize people that would need it more'

When Brenn McCoy and his family evacuated Fort McMurray they took almost nothing with them. (Supplied)

When Brenn McCoy and his family left Fort McMurray they took nothing.

"Before we left I was at work, we didn't have time to get anything," said McCoy.

"My wife remembered to bring a couple pairs of clothes, all I had for shoes were my work boots I brought with me."

Now, McCoy is living in his sister's basement in Killam — about 150 km southeast of Edmonton — with his two young daughters and his wife. He's trying to build back up the essentials he left behind in his home at Fort McMurray.

Amanda Loveless registered with the Red Cross on May 4 and is still waiting to receive funds. (Supplied)

He said people were generous to him and he wants to start paying them back.

McCoy registered online with the Red Cross shortly after the evacuation. He was hoping he could use these funds to start helping out.

He said he noticed his single friends receiving the e-transfers.

"We're a family of four, you think they would know to prioritize people that would need it more," said McCoy. "It's a little harder to find accommodation, clothing, food," McCoy said.

"It's pretty frustrating."

He said he's called and called talking to representative after representative and he's not alone.

Amanda Loveless registered for herself and her two children back on May 4. She said  she too is still waiting for funding. 

The email that Red Cross sent to registered evacuees still waiting for funding. (Supplied)

"I'm about ready to just walk away," said Loveless. "Just ready to give up."

The Red Cross is paying $600 for adults and $300 for children in money transfers to those displaced by the wildfire.

The government is also offering assistance in the form of debit cards for evacuees. 

Jenn McManus, the vice president of Canadian Red Cross in Alberta, said the reason for the holdup is that some families signed up more than once.

"We're cross-referencing those files in our registration database," said McManus.

"So a few families have been held up in regards to multiple registrants in one family."

McManus said those waiting for payments should receive them in a few days.

On Thursday, the Red Cross sent out an email to families still waiting in an attempt to ease some of the frustration.

"We recognize that some of you are awaiting funds, and we appreciate your patience," the email says.

"We are continuing to reach out daily to ensure that assistance reaches everyone who needs it.".

McManus said that the $42 million released is the largest in the history of the Red Cross in Canada. 

With files from Travis McEwan

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